Cold War-era cartoon aimed at convincing workers that increased productivity brings about greater purchasing power.
WHY PLAY LEAPFROG?, the fourth in a series of economics films, shows through an animated Technicolor cartoon how increased wages based on increased productivity bring about increased purchasing power.
The film begins with a brief introductory sequence showing two cartoon figures -- one representing prices and the other representing wages -- playing leapfrog as each successively rises on the cost-of-living index. It then shifts to show Joe, a worker in the Dilly Doll Company, slightly down in the mouth because of a steady rise in the cost of living without an accompanying increase in wages. His joy over an increase in wages fades when he discovers that the price of a doll which he planned to buy for his little girl for a birthday present has also gone up. The manager of the store explains to Joe that he has had to increase the price because the factory is charging more.
As Joe is reflecting upon the thought that the raw materials for the doll which markets for two dollars cost only ten cents, a voice asks him whether or not he knows the value of the raw materials in a $1900 car. When Joe guesses $300, the voice tells him that the materials are worth only $22. An animated pictogram shows the raw materials in an automobile and the countless number of men needed to transform it into the finished product. A circle graph shows the proportionate costs involved in the manufacturing and marketing of the car. The direct and indirect labor costs are shown to be $1200.
Joe admits that he can understand this cost analysis for an automobile but still wonders what factors account for beef steak's costing one dollar per pound. The direct and indirect labor costs of feeding, fencing, housing, caring for, shipping, butchering and marketing "Bully Boy" are shown. As a butcher sells a pound of beef, his scales register each of these costs. In the case of this item, as in the case of the car, 85% of the selling price is attributable to direct and indirect labor costs.
The offstage voice helps Joe arrive at the conclusion that increased productivity would result in greater buying power and lower costs. Joe presents to his supervisor the idea of painting four dolls at once. The supervisor thinks it is a good idea and is shown going to the bank to borrow money to purchase new equipment. The increase in production results in another increase in Joe's wages and a decrease in the price of dolls. The summarizing statement points out that under this arrangement wages can keep ahead of prices. [Educational Screen Jan. 52]
Ken Smith sez: The third sharp-looking cartoon in the "fun and facts about American business" series, beautifully animated by John Sutherland Productions. "Joe" (see MEET KING JOE) works at the Dilly-Doll factory as a face painter, and is upset because nearly every one of his raises is offset by an increase in the cost of goods. But the narrator explains that labor costs are to blame (not excessive profits or executive bonuses) and Joe quickly learns to use the system to his own benefit. A Freedoms Foundation award-winner. In Technicolor.
August 30, 2011 Subject:
Correction for last reviewer
If you look at open, it's John Sutherland, a rival of Jerry Fairbanks, not Jerry himself. Understandble mix-up though.
April 29, 2005 Subject:
Because it's fun!
Another great Jerry Fairbanks cartoon. Honestly, I am not too sure why this guy didn't rival disney in the feature films department, because this animated film is great!
This talks about the worker frustrated that, while his pay goes up, prices go up as well! It is then explained to why this is, and offers solutions (albeit somewhat primitive) to resolve this dilemma.
This all sounds rather dull, but some rather funny killer animation is happening here with some very clever ideas (check out the auto asembly line and the way beef goes to market!). Also add some very funny characters and you've got a MUST SEE on this site!
December 5, 2003 Subject:
Joe, the king of dolls production
In the spirit of films produced by Harding College and John Sutherland, presents a tunnel vision capitalist view of economics. This time, rising prices are blamed on increasing wages for workers, so the only hope for wages to keep up is for workers to produce more. Cartoon hero Joe comes up with an idea to increase produtivity so his company's owners will earn more profits, and then he gets a raise. So make more money for someone else, and they will reward you with a bit of it. It is kind of a fun cartoon in Technicolor in spite of this simplistic view of economics.
December 16, 2002 Subject:
Why Play Leap Frog?
What plays leap frog are wages and prices in a capitalist economy, as this film patiently explains to its Meet King joe-like hero, an employee at the Dilly Doll Company who gets upset after getting a raise and then finding out the price has gone up on his own company's product (this must have been the days before employee discounts). The explanation given for inflation is that labor costs so darn much. Essentially, the doll's higher price is directly attributed to worker Joe's raise, a depressing message to the workers this film was aimed at. But a way out is presented in the form of technologyadvances in manufacturing technology increase productivity and this supposedly keeps wages ahead of prices. I don't know much about economic theory, but this seems awfully simplistic and convenient to business owners. Besides that, the film has the patronizing tone of Meet King Joe. I doubt if many workers really bought this.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***. Also available on An American Retrospective Through Animation.